FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- However it comes about, a win in the NFL is always worth celebrating. There are certainly some things the Falcons (3-0) can improve upon after their competitive 30-26 victory against the Detroit Lions (2-1), but they managed to remain undefeated and earned a crucial road win against a good team. Next up: A home matchup against the 2-1 Buffalo Bills.
Today's Early Bird Report includes several reactions from Atlanta's win, the Bills' 26-16 victory against the Denver Broncos and the other games from around the division.
FALCONS HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
Sports Illustrated: Three thoughts from the Falcons' victory over Lions
Atlanta's victory against Detroit wasn't pretty, but a win, especially on the road, is really all that matters. After the game, *Sports Illustrated's *Michael Beller shared three thoughts on the Falcons and Lions.
His first thought is a sentiment that started to be shared last week: Atlanta is not suffering from a Super Bowl hangover. The second takeaway for Beller is that Detroit's start this season is no fluke; the Lions are for real. Finally, he noted that Atlanta doesn't have to rely solely on offense to win games. On a day when Matt Ryan threw three interceptions, the Falcons' defense did enough to come out on top.
ESPN.com: The NFL was right to overturn the Lions' game-winning touchdown
While reviewing Detroit's apparent game-winning touchdown in the closing seconds of Sunday's game, the officials ruled that Golden Tate's knee touched down prior to the ball crossing the goal line. This decision meant that a 10-second runoff would occur unless the Lions called a timeout, which they did not have.
This is an extremely rare situation, but Kevin Seifert of ESPN says the refs' decision was the correct one. Had the play not been ruled a touchdown, Detroit would have had an opportunity to get another play off. According to Seifert, Lions coach Jim Caldwell said his team would have "certainly" been able to run another play.
FiveThirtyEight.com: Falcons currently have best chance of making playoffs among NFC teams
Projections are often tricky things, but the experts at FiveThirtyEight have made a name for themselves in that regard. The statisticians provide odds and projections on a myriad of subjects, including playoff chances for NFL teams.
After Sunday's win against the Lions, the Falcons now have an 88 percent chance to reach the postseason. This is the second-highest mark behind the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs and the best projection in the NFC. FiveThirtyEight says the average simulated season for Atlanta results in 11.9 wins and 4.1 losses with a plus-105.2 point differential.
NEWS ON THE FALCONS' OPPONENT: Buffalo Bills
ESPN.com: Bills move to 2-1 with victory over the Broncos
After a dominant performance against the Dallas Cowboys, few expected the undefeated Denver Broncos to struggle with the Buffalo Bills. The underdogs came out on top, however, as the Bills emerged with a 26-16 victory.
According to ESPN's Mike Rodak, the most impressive part of the Bills' win was their offense, which scored on six of their 11 possessions prior to the final kneeldowns. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor led the way in the victory, completing 20 of his 26 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns.
Buffalobills.com: Top 3 things we learned from Bills-Broncos
So what were the biggest takeaways from Buffalo's win? According to Bills Insider Chris Brown, there were three big things to be learned on Sunday.
He starts by mentioning the passing game, which developed a rhythm against the Broncos' vaunted pass defense. Although LeSean McCoy wasn't a big producer on the ground, Brown notes that he found other ways to help the team, particularly in the passing game. McCoy led the Bills with seven receptions for 48 yards. Finally, Brown notes that Stephen Hauschka was exceptionally clutch in the first half to keep Buffalo in the game, hitting field goals from 49 and 55 yards before halftime.
BIGGEST NEWS FROM AROUND THE NFC SOUTH
The Times-Picayune: 10 things we learned from the Saints' win at Carolina
After struggling mightily in their first two games, the New Orleans Saints earned a much-needed 34-13 victory on the road in a division clash with the Carolina Panthers. Jeff Duncan of *The Times-Picayune *provided 10 takeaways from the victory.
Among Duncan's things to be learned was Michael Thomas' big day. The second-year receiver caught seven passes for 87 yards and a touchdown. New Orleans' running game came alive thanks to some good blocking up front. The Saints finished with 149 yards on 27 carries, an average of 5.9 yards. Drew Brees also turned in another fine performance, throwing for 220 yards and three touchdowns.
ESPN.com: Key Bucs players to undergo MRIs on Monday
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers entered Sunday's tilt against the Minnesota Vikings without a few key players, and they left the 34-17 loss with a couple more notable injuries to deal with.
According to ESPN's Jenna Laine, Noah Spence left the game with a dislocated shoulder and Lavonta David suffered what is being reported as a high ankle sprain. Gerald McCoy also appears to have aggravated an ankle injury that he's been dealing with recently.
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